NATURE CAREERS PODCAST

Working Scientist podcast: My courtroom battles to halt illegal peatland fires in Indonesia

Adam Levy talks to 2019 John Maddox Prize winner Bambang Hero Saharjo and Olivier Bernard, the Canadian pharmacist whose campaign against vitamin C injections for cancer patients earned him the early career stage prize.
Adam Levy is a science journalist based in London.

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Smouldering peatland in Kampar, Indonesia

Credit: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty

Championing evidence and changing minds: Adam Levy talks to 2019 John Maddox Prize winners Bambang Hero Saharjo and Olivier Bernard.

The John Maddox Prize recognises the work of individuals who promote science and evidence, advancing the public discussion around difficult topics despite challenges or hostility.

Bambang Hero Saharjo, winner of the 2019 prize, is a lead expert witness on illegal peatland fires in Indonesia. He has presented evidence on nearly 500 environmental cases for the Indonesian government, often facing threats and harassment.

Saharjo, a professor in the forestry faculty at Bogor Agricultual University, was nominated by Jacob Phelps, a lecturer in tropical environmental change and policy at Lancaster University, UK, who says: "His work serves not only to bring justice in individual cases, but has inspired a vision of what is possible in Indonesia—a future in which courts are true centres of evidence-based justice, even in the face of entrenched interests; where academics are genuine public servants, and in which science has a prominent role inthe public discourse."

In 2012 pharmacist and broadcaster Olivier Bernard created Le Pharmachien, a comic website to help the public separate myths from facts about healthcare. An English version, The Pharmafist, is also available. More recently Bernard has spoken out against high-dose vitamin C injections for cancer patients. This intervention is not supported by the current body of scientific evidence and Olivier's campaign led to him facing intimidation and cyberbullying. Bernard is winner of the John Maddox Prize early career stage award.

The prize is a joint initiative between Nature and the charity Sense about Science, which challenges the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life. It is named in honour of Sir John Maddox, who edited Nature for a total of 22 years between 1966 and 1995.

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Transcript

Championing evidence and changing minds: Adam Levy talks to 2019 John Maddox Prize winners Bambang Hero Saharjo and Olivier Bernard.

A transcript of this podcast is coming soon.